Speculaas Cupcakes

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Speculaas is this amazing Dutch dessert…It’s actually 3 different products, or perhaps more, I don’t really know the extent of it’s amazingness. What I was introduced to though is first, the Speculaas cookie. It’s sort of like a graham cracker, in that it is not too sweet and it’s cinnamony. It is a bit more buttery (although you can find vegan ones in supermarkets easily!), is harder (like a thin, crunchy, shortbread cookie biscuit), and is stamped with ornate molds on the tops, so they are very pretty and always different depending where you get them.

They sell them prepackaged in stores or also you can get them at bakeries, in different small or very large sizes. Dutch people (and also Belgian, because I saw them in Brussels…Although in Belgium you call them Speculoos, not Speculaas) eat them with tea for breakfast. Yum. Apparently you can also get them in the States but they are called Dutch Windmill Cookies (and, I’m not sure that those are vegan).

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Speculaas have a very specific spice mix that adds to the flavor. It is a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, coriander, and sometimes white pepper. And the secret ingredient is orange rind! Yummy. They taste like Fall to me. You can buy this spice mix in the spice section of the grocery store here, if you wanted to bake your own Speculaas cookies…Or make cupcakes with it, as we did! I think I’ll have to create my own spice mix back in the States because it is really delicious and then I can eat Speculaas all the time!

The third product, which I personally think is the best, is Speculaas Paste. It has the consistency of smooth peanut butter, and a similar color. Really what it is, is ground up Speculaas cookies mixed with oil and emulsifiers so it becomes smooth and doesn’t separate. The Dutch eat it spread on toast. They seem to eat a lot of things spread on toast, like Nutella, white chocolate Nutella, flavored coconut strips, assorted nut butters (hazelnut, peanut, sunflower seed, etc), and the weirdest one I think is melted sprinkles (like sprinkles you would put on ice cream sundaes, but you make toast and then you cover the toast with butter and a heavy layer of sprinkles and let it melt onto the bread and then you eat it…For breakfast. Mmm). So you can take Speculaas spread and put it on your toast too…So it’s like cookies on toast. Perfect. Or you can just eat it with a spoon, which is actually the best way I think.

Tara and I decided that 3 Speculaas products were not enough, and it should actually be made into cupcake form! We made Speculaas cupcakes by mixing the spice powder into cupcakes, along with ground Speculaas cookies and a bit of rye flour (the Dutch use lots of rye flour, it’s impressive! There are lots of gluten-free products made from it, that are just normal traditional Dutch foods, like breakfast cakes and Speculaas cookies). The cupcakes are delicious by themselves, a bit spicy and not too sweet. It’s a little like a gingerbread, but less heavy and with a nice zesty orange taste added. You could certainly eat these as muffins, with breakfast or as a light dessert.

Note the very cute red and white Dutch cupcake wrappers:

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We piped some pure Speculaas paste into the center of the cakes, using Tara’s great-grandmother’s pastry tube and Tara’s method of injecting filling which is actually quite surgical, and fun. She often injects her frostings more than once into each cupcake, so when you bite into it you have many inserts of sweet gooey filling!

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We made a fluffy frosting using the Speculaas paste, extra Speculaas spices, a bit of vegan butter and powdered sugar, vanilla, a dash of almond extract, and some white flour to give it body. We couldn’t stop eating it! We spread and piped it liberally on our cupcakes, and then decorated them with pieces of Speculaas cookies and ground up cookies sprinkled on top. With Tara’s influence, we decorated each cupcake individually, so it was quite a beautiful site to behold when we were finished, and required us to take lots of pictures!

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20 Responses to “Speculaas Cupcakes”


  1. 1 Lisa Tabassi June 20, 2009 at 6:13 am

    You two are — what can I say — there aren’t words to describe it — absolutely over the top, fantastic, wonderful, amazing, miracles to behold!!!!!!! I never imagined that I would enjoy so much reading about a cupcake!!!!!! The photos are fantastic — I wish I could taste them!!!!!! Lisa

  2. 2 sonja June 20, 2009 at 11:04 am

    beautiful! also, i’ve totally had those cookies! when you were explaining it before, i didn’t understand, but i get it now…and want one!!

  3. 3 Lili June 20, 2009 at 11:45 am

    WOW! This is the most wonderful post ever! The beautiful photos, of the cupcakes, plus the writing about speculaas, which combines flavors with a sense of culture! Lisa is right — the two of you are totally fabulous together!

  4. 4 Sophie June 20, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    wow, these are so pretty! did you make the cookies from scratch?? awesome.

  5. 5 Xiaolu June 21, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    That looks fantastic! Did you add flour directly to the frosting without any cooking? Does that affect the taste negatively?

  6. 6 Tessa June 21, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Lisa, Sonja, Lili: Thanks so much for the compliments! You’re all so sweet (just like the cupcakes!). These were really fun to make so I’m sure both Tara and I will be making them (and variations) again and you can hopefully taste them then!

    Sophie: we didn’t make the cookies from scratch, although I have found numerous recipes online for them. We just bought them at the store here in Holland, where I am visiting family. They certainly are ornate! I would love to find some molds or stamps like that so I could make cookies like that at home.

    Xiaolu: yes, we just added about 2 tablespoons of white flour to the frosting and continued to whip it, and it got a great fluffy texture. It’s worked like that for me in the past too, and doesn’t change the flavor much, only the consistency.

  7. 7 MC July 26, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    You ladies are amazing! You write with such passion and create such beautiful sweets! I have no doubt you will be famous pastry chefs very soon!
    mc

  8. 8 bazu September 7, 2009 at 7:49 am

    That is possibly the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Wow!

  9. 9 Sarah W. September 15, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Do you have an actual measurement of ingredients to make these cupcakes??? I’ve got the spread and cookies being shipped to me soooooon. I’m literally drooling over your cupcake creations!

    • 10 Tessa September 15, 2009 at 9:08 pm

      Hi Sarah – Thanks for the compliment! I am happy that you like my blog. I don’t currently have the actual measurements of the ingredients to make these particular cupcakes, because when I made them, I was traveling and I left the recipe with my friend/hostess. I will try to get the recipe from her and will update this post then! Sorry for the delay!

  10. 11 Renske October 2, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    hi there,

    I’m dutch and love your idea to make cupcakes of the speculaas!
    we eat speculaas all year round but in fall and winter we eat them like nothing else! and yes we eat them on toast…just like that…just the cookie on toast…jammy! you can even by little mini cookies specially made for toast (but they would work loverly for sprinkling the cupcakes!)
    these cupcakes would are very nice with a large cup of hot choco and a good book on a cold evening!
    thanks for sharing these idea’s, i will make them!!!!

  11. 12 Lisa November 3, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Delish! I’m Dutch too….well, my mother is so that makes me Dutch too doesn’t it? We love speculaas!! My son calls them ‘dipping cookies’ because they go so well with tea and hot chocolate. I’d love to try making these – just stumbled across your blog recently – did you ever post the recipe?

    Fantastic, just fantastic!!

    • 13 Tessa November 3, 2009 at 8:05 pm

      Hi Lisa,

      I’m glad you like the recipe idea! I made these cupcakes while I was traveling in Holland, and I left the recipe with a friend there…I’ve asked for it but still not gotten a good copy of it. Sorry! That’s why I never posted it officially. But you could make your favorite basic cupcake recipe and add the Speculaas spices to the batter, along with some cookie crumbs. Then, pipe the Speculaas paste into the center of the cupcakes. For the frosting, you can make your favorite basic vanilla buttercream frosting but add Speculaas spices and even a little of the Speculaas paste into it! That should work just fine. Enjoy!!

  12. 14 cakeday November 29, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Just for information

    Speculoos and speculaas are two different products with two different tastes.

    Speculoos is a spread based on the Belgium Speculoos cookies, which are hardly available in Holland, but taste similair to the Dutch Bastogne cookies.

    Speculaas are the Dutch cookies tradionally eaten around the festival of Sinterklaas.

    • 15 Mama bakt taart November 2, 2010 at 1:32 pm

      As far a I know SPECULOOS does not tast like Bastogne Cookies but tast like Speculaas…
      Anyway…sometimes I take a theaspoon and open the bottle and …hmmmmmm …..yummi

  13. 16 rachel January 22, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Hi….My family is Dutch too, and I grew up with speculaas cookies,in fact I have an original recipe that my Oma wrote out (in broken English with diagrams where she didn’t know the proper words)for her Speculaas Sinterklaas cookies that she made every christmas.She would make a large cookie (about 12 inches) for each family (she had nine children) in the shape of Sinterklaas ( he looked like the pope to me!) and each grandchild would recieve a Dutch Chocolate Initial. That was her tradition. I have always loved Speculaas cookies…. very easy to make and are wonderful to dunk in coffee, I think! And, yes….the Dutch do eat all kinds of sweet things on toast! never really thought about that before….we grew up with the sprinkles on toast as well as chocolate”hail” which is like sprinkles…..that’s what we ate as kids!! Surprisingly we are all slim and trim in spite of eating sugar sandwiches…..guess it’s the good dutch genes!

  14. 17 mama bakt taart November 2, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Hello All,

    Well Sinterklaas is comming (december 5th) soon and we will eat lots of pepernoten en speculaas cookies!
    The spices (pepper,cinnemon,kruidnagel,etc.) that are used for speculaas are from the West Indy´s where the VOC took schiploads to Holland around 1800.
    As a child I liked eating speculaas on a withe bread added with a little butter so it would stick to it.
    Now we just put on the Speculoos spread that funny enough is made in my hometown Enkhuizen!
    But also dipping in the thea is a favorite!
    I think if you´ll look on the net you can find old fashion molds at Marktplaats(Netherlands) and look for SPECULAASVORM or VORMEN or SPECULAASPLANK and there will pop up a lot of pictures of all kind of molds…

    with regards Julie ,Mama bakt taart

  15. 18 notyet100 December 15, 2010 at 9:20 am

    first time here,…cupcakes look too good,..

  16. 19 Lotte January 12, 2012 at 7:20 am

    I’m Dutch, and I feel really flattered, hahah ;)


  1. 1 Speculoos Spread & Cookies/new house/question « Sarah Is Healthy Trackback on September 17, 2009 at 6:50 pm

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